Monday, 18 April 2011

How to...find out your hair type

Hair type is one thing that can be tricky to determine, but useful when trying to look for the right products and knowing how to manage your hair in general. I remember when I first started navigating the natural hair world people would chuck around terms like 'coarse 3c hair' or 'mixture of O and S shape' and I'd be like 'huh?? ...what are they on about? What is this funny number system? How do I know if my hair is coarse?'.

There are lots of different ways to define hair type and texture.

1) Thickness
This is the thickness of your strands of hair. It is not the same as density, which is how many strands of hair you'd have on your head. What most people term thickness is actually density Take a look at one strand of your hair.
 Fine hair: This is hair with (obviously) fine strands.It is hard to see the strand even when held up to the light and when you roll it between your fingers will feel light and thin. Fine hair is the most fragile and often the most prone to breakage. It doesn't like heavy products, so if you have this hair type, handle with care.

Medium hair: Kinda hard to describe this, apart from that it's in between coarse and fine hair. It won't feel particularly thick in between your fingers, or thin. Caucasians usually have medium hair. (Please don't run to one of your white friends and ask for a strand of hair to compare with yours....please)

Coarse hair: This is hair with the thickness of perhaps a little less than a  piece of thread. You can definitely feel the individual strand when you roll it through your fingers, and a lot of  Black and Asian folk have this. This hair type should be the strongest, but although the strand is thick, this hair type can be prone to dryness and thus, breakage. It tends to like heavier products oils, butters etc.

2) Curl Pattern
This is the biggie. the one everyone has most trouble determining and accepting.

There are main 4 groups. Type 1 and 2 are straight and wavy hair, but we won't focus on them because most black women don't have those curl patterns in abundance. Although some will have some type 2 hair mixed in with other types.

 Type 3

Type 3 hair is curly hair. there are 3 subgroups of this.

3a - 3a hair has the loosest curl pattern, kinda losse spirals. Like Claire from My Wife and Kids.

3b - Most women with 3b hair have ringlets, probably the size of a marker pen, like Rachel True.

3c - 3c curls are corkscrew curls tighter than 3b hair, the circumference being maybe bigger than a normal pen.

Type 4 hair. 
Type 4 hair is the type of hair that is has the tightest curls, and sometimes has no coil/ ringlet pattern but more z shaped kinks. It is the hair type that most people think is hardest to manage and not as beautiful as the others. There two sub-types.

4a hair - 4a hair has tight coils smaller than that of  biro or around the same size. When you pull a strand of 4 a hair, there is a definite S shaped pattern.

4b hair - This is the kinkiest, tightest curl type. When pulled taught z pattern might form in stead of an S shaped pattern, and there might be no obvious 'curls' or 'coils'. It tends to be the most fragile, so treat gently.

Most people are a mixture of curl patterns. For example, I have coarse hair that is  predominately 4a with a few 3c areas, and a little patch of 4b as well. As you can see from the pics, all hair types are beautiful :-).

It's a lot of part two coming tomorrow....

Peace, Love and Hair grease folks ! xx

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